SOUTHAMPTON City Council’s leader has warned residents that following the rules “is not optional” as coronavirus infection rates continued to rise across the UK.

In a letter to the Daily Echo, Chris Hammond says the council will not be complacent when it comes to keeping residents safe.

The most recent figures revealed that as of 9am on Friday, a further 6,874 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in the UK, and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, an additional 34 people had died.

This takes the total number of coronavirus deaths in the UK to 41,936.

In Southampton alone more than 160 people have died of coronavirus, and more stringent lockdown measures have been brought in nationall.

Cllr Hammond says that the council will not shy away from making unpopular decisions in order to protect peoples’ health.

He said: “As national infection rates rise again, we cannot be complacent.

“We will act quickly and decisively to keep you safe, in what will continue to be a rapidly evolving situation.

“Sometimes these decisions are not going to be popular, but we are committed to weighing up competing interests in each situation, considering the evidence and taking professional advice about implications for health, safety, jobs and economic survival. “

He acknowledged that members of the public may have found Government messages confusing, but stressed that rules must be followed.

He said: “We will always seek to serve the interest of the majority and not just the loudest or most powerful voices.

“This crisis is too important, lives are at risk and we must act in the interests of the population as a whole

“I know there are frustrations about the government’s mixed messages and U-turns on key actions and that there are different ideas about how we move forward.

“Whilst I understand and respect resident’s different views, I must stress that following the rules is not optional for anyone.”

Following the news of increased cases in the UK it was revealed that supermarket brand Tesco has reintroduced purchasing limits for popular products such as toilet rolls, pasta, and flour, to prevent shelves going bare.

A number of products will be restricted to three items per customer, in a repeat of rationing seen at the start of the pandemic.

Flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes will have purchasing limits in stores, it said.

It has also introduced additional limits for some products online.